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Bears Have More than Roquan Smith to Pay

Analysis: A report says Roquan Smith will be talking to the Bears sometime this summer about a new deal but nothing is said about David Montgomery, who also is due for an extension and is said to be highly thought of by the team.

Roquan Smith is the biggest Bears free agent for next year, although he's not the only premier player on the roster awaiting a new deal.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, discussions on a deal for Smith will "heat up some time this summer," but the report says nothing about one more possible deal for a player whose contract ends after this season.

Summer is when the Bears normally have done their negotiations with players up for new contracts. 

Often they've come up with the new contract just before the regular season or at some point during training camp. It was that case with Cody Whitehair in 2019, Charles Leno in 2017 and Kyle Long in 2016.  It's not always that way as they signed safety Eddie Jackson to a $58.4 million deal in early January of 2020. 

Then again, all of those occurred during the era of GM Ryan Pace and Ryan Poles is in charge now.

It's been known since last season that Smith does not have an agent. Fowler notes Smith "...will essentially negotiate on his own behalf...," and adds that a deal pushing the market price of $20 million could be the end result.

Smith was asked about negotiating his own deal at April's veterans minicamp.

"At the end of the day, all those things are personal," he said. "When everything was going on the way it was going on, that's just a part of being a pro at the end of the day and just accepting responsibility that you put upon yourself. So that's how I view that. That's how I'm taking it, and everything will take care of itself."

Spotrac.com publishes market values for top players and lists Smith at $17.6 million a year.

Fowler's story says nothing of talks about a new deal for running back David Montgomery, the other key Bears player due a contract before March of 2023.

Whether this is oversight or the Bears are not pursuing a deal at this time is uncertain.

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The article has plenty of players named as potential signings with other teams who are expected to receive far less than Montgomery, so it wasn't an instance where Montgomery's money doesn't put him in a class with some other free agents due new deals.

Dawson Knox and Jordan Poyer of Buffalo, for example, are projected by Spotrac.com to get smaller contracts than Montgomery but those two are mentioned as possible upcoming Bills signings in the article.

Is it even possible the Bears will not pursue a new deal with Montgomery?

Spotrac.com says Montgomery's market value is $12.9 million. It definitely hasn't been a running back's market in recent years.

The Bears have selected running backs in the last two drafts.

Another factor in all of this is the new offensive system. Would the Bears wait to see what kind of fit in the offense Montgomery is, although it's difficult to see how he couldn't play in it?

Montgomery's leadership, commitment and work ethic all have impressed the new coaching staff.

"As a person, serious guy, wants to get better," running backs coach David Walker said. "The thing I like about David is he doesn't feel like he's arrived yet. You know what I mean? Some of the guys that have been in the league for a while think they have arrived.

"He's trying to learn from his standpoint. I believe I'm coach (No.) three in four seasons for him so he's had to really learn every offseason something different and new. He's doing a good job with it. But I really like his make up in terms of wanting to get better, pushing himself to get better. He has high standards and we are going to do everything we can to reach those standards on a daily basis."

It couldn't have hurt Montgomery's chances for a deal when Bears board chairman George McCaskey picked Smith and him as players to commend for their efforts after last season ended.

So it's now a matter of the Bears putting their money where their mouths have been in regards to both Smith and Montgomery.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven